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MSSA to Take a Closer Look at Homecoming
In an attempt to improve the Homecoming celebration, the Minnesota State Student Association passed a motion at Wednesday's meeting to initiate a Homecoming Development Task Force.
The task force is charged with four goals: review and evaluate the past three Homecoming celebrations; recommend events to engage the city of Mankato; recommend events to engage all sectors of the MSU community, including alumni; and make recommendations for future Homecoming planning and organization structure.
"It's quite obvious that Homecoming isn't a big deal anymore," MSSA President Gabe Afolayan said. "It's quite obvious that when students think of Homecoming, a majority of them think that it's an occasion to drink beer and drink and drink."
The motion listed several reasons for the creation of the task force, including that the celebrations have seen a decrease in participation, there has been a lack of engaging events and that students invest student activity fees for Homecoming celebrations and deserve successful programming.
Afolayan said the task force would bring together all the people with an interest in Homecoming to review the event and talk about how to get it back to celebrating Minnesota State history, connecting with alumni and current students and promoting school spirit with fun activities.
The task force will include a member of the Mankato Area Chamber of Commerce, members of the 2006 Homecoming Committee, MSSA Student Affairs Committee, alumni, staff and administrators.
Undeclared Senator Ryan Anderson said the makeup of the task force would form partnerships between the parties that have a concern about Homecoming.
Off-Campus Senator Caroline Kornowicz, who was involved in planning the celebration last year, said Student Events Team is generally in charge of Homecoming.
"Homecoming does have a committee and anyone is welcome to be on that committee," said College of Education Senator Jenna Ault.
Ault said that Student Events Team has an advisor to talk with faculty, administrators and anyone else wishing to be involved with Homecoming. She said that now that Homecoming is over, the Homecoming chairman will have continuous meetings throughout the year to evaluate the event. Ault said that anyone with an opinion about Homecoming should go to the Homecoming committee meetings to share input. She said planning for Homecoming begins at the end of the school year, and that the Homecoming planning meetings last year were very poorly attended.
"No one showed up," Ault said. "And then we have these meetings saying, 'oh, Homecoming sucked.' Well, sorry, if you're not going to put your two cents in, then you shouldn't say anything."
"With all due respect to the previous speaker, this is the two cents," Afolayan said. "This entire motion is two cents. It's more than two cents."
Afolayan said this is a chance for the MSSA to do something about Homecoming right away. He said the MSSA has a committee that meets every week - the Student Affairs Committee - to discuss issues like this and has better access to administrators and community members.
Afolayan said the motion is only to form a task force to make recommendations about Homecoming and not to take over the planning or make cuts. He said it is up to the Homecoming committee to choose to use the recommendations or not.
Kornowicz said the Homecoming committee does have access to some administrators who add their input into planning Homecoming.
Off-Campus Senator Jason Schilling said he thought forming a committee would be a great idea because it might get more people to attend the Homecoming meetings that Ault mentioned.
College of Science, Engineering and Technology Senator Jessica Nelson said she thought the task force was a good idea and that it would be interesting to see how the student body participates in Homecoming activities as compared to drinking activities.
Anderson said that since student activity fees are put into Homecoming programming, the committee should be formed "to look into how our money is spent."
Kornowicz said the allocated student activity fees for Homecoming preparation has remained the same for several years.
Off-Campus Senator Jon Sands said he liked that the task force will include a Mankao Area Chamber of Commerce member.
"I think this is a very good idea, however, I would still like to see Student Events Team's input on this," Sands said.
Sands said he has been involved with Student Events Team and that the team works hard on Homecoming. He said he sees this "as a slap in the face" because Student Events Team has not been asked to collaborate on the motion.
Afolayan said the motion is not a personal attack and that it would be "silly" for any group or individual to claim ownership of an event that is for the entire campus, community and alumni. He cited a part of the motion that read, "MSU students, alumni, faculty, staff, administration and community leaders have not done enough to meet the expectations of an adequate Homecoming celebration."
"We should get all those people involved so they will have their say" on how to improve Homecoming, Afolayan said.
Emmeline Elliott is a Reporter staff writer